Off-grid living with solar power on Curtis Island saves Qld couple thousands on energy bill
Author: Erin Semmler and Rachel McGhee
Off-grid living has been Cheryl and Trevor Watson's way of life for almost 40 years. The couple lives on Curtis Island, a one-hour ferry ride off the port city of Gladstone in central Queensland. They run everything from a toaster to lawn mower star using solar power. "It's like being in town," Mr Watson said. "We've got plenty of power which we can run microwaves, toasters, air fryers, air compressors, welding machines, so it's quite a good system." Griffith University's Dr Sascha Stegen has more than 26 years' experience in the electrical industry, with expertise in renewable and off-grid set-ups. "When we look at solar installation 10 years ago, the consumer paid approximately $2.40 per watt, and this cost [has] come down to around or under $1 per watt," Dr Stegen said. "Australia is supporting solar PV installations with incentives, with so-called STCs so small-scale technology certificate, which stimulates the market and the willingness to install solar." While residents in the small town of Southend have embraced solar energy, on the other side of the island, three liquified natural gas (LNG) plants export tonnes of gas internationally.